Living water, like that of an ocean or a raging river, I look at it and am immediately terrified. My knees get weak and my stomach gets queasy. Being underneath it is even worse, it’s overwhelming and I feel at its mercy and control. At the same time, I’m mesmerized by it. I can watch the ocean waves especially before and during a storm or a raging river at flood stage and watch it in awe. I’m drawn to it, it’s beautiful and I can’t stop looking at it. I want to experience it. That’s how I have always felt about God. I’m terrified at the thought of giving over complete control, but so much in awe of Him. I just want to experience His fullness. So I step out of the boat. I don’t get very far before the waves of loneliness, doubt, and fear jostle me about. The wind moans the words “what am I doing here?”, “why is all of this happening?”, and “is this it?” I’m being over taken, I feel myself going under. But just at that moment where all feels lost, I instinctively thrust my hand up and cry out. Almost immediately, a firm hand grasps my hand and I find myself rising above it all.
The sun was setting and the wind was blowing hard. It was a beautiful, cold January evening. I had nothing to do but to enjoy the crashing waves, forceful winds, and look for seashells. I had the place all to myself. Everyone had left the park and I was getting ready to do the same. As I approached the jeep, I realized that I had lost the key. Even though, I knew it was a lost cause, I had to go back to the shore and try to find them. I, of course, didn’t. By then it was dark. The wind was cold. To make matters worse, my mother and my grandmother had no idea where I was at. I had told them I would be at one place, but I went to another. I had no cell phone or no other way to contact them. I began to walk in the dark. The ranger’s station was about 3 miles away and there was a good chance there was no one there, but I started the walk anyway. I was mad. I was crying. I was begging God to help me out. Sure, I was afraid, but I knew I would be alright and end up with a good story about having to spend the night in a public bathroom. It wasn’t me that I was worried about. It was about my mom and grandmother. My grandmother was already in the hospital and I just knew I would put her in her grave over the worry of me and my stupidity. I begged for a rescue. However, I kept walking in the dark. Nothing came in sight. At one point, I spotted a light. I asked God let this be my rescue, but it turned off in another direction. I lost it, to my shame, I pitched a toddler fit. I just knew that I had killed my grandmother and why couldn’t God have saved me? It was an accident. I hadn’t intentionally tried to be irresponsible. Why couldn’t He just save me? Wasn’t it easy for him to do it? However, I still had to walk in the dark. Even though, I was mad and hurt, I didn’t stop walking. I continued to peer in the dark and pray for deliverance. Once again, another set of lights were off ahead and even though I was afraid to believe again, I did just that, I walked towards those lights. I prayed to God for deliverance. As I prayed and walked, walked and prayed, the lights were getting closer. It was the ranger! He was getting ready to call it a day and head for home, but saw that my jeep was still there and he came looking for me. I was saved, and more my grandmother and mother were spared from unnecessary grief and worry. God delivered, but what if I had given up and found my own shelter?
A few years before, I lived and worked on a dude ranch in Wyoming. There wasn’t a lot to do so many of the employees found entertainment from a bottle. One particular night, one of the head wranglers had drunk himself into oblivion. I was in bed and I could hear things getting loud outside. Things were always getting loud, but this was a different kind of loud. As I looked out my window to investigate, I saw my best friend at the time, run into one of the cowboy’s quarters and the other cowboys fighting off her boyfriend. I ran out and slipped into the guy’s quarters where my friend was while they were fighting. I found her in the bathroom screaming out of control (I found out later that he had tried to choke her.) and even though my faith wasn’t strong at that point, I knew who to pray to for deliverance and I whispered His name in prayer. She was calming down and just when I thought things were going to be okay. Her belligerent boyfriend had broken past the other guys. Next thing I knew, I was on the floor bracing my back against the door pushing my feet against the toilet all in the attempt to keep him from breaking through. All the while, I was holding her as her screams filled the dark bathroom. I never made a sound. I only remember coming to the acceptance that this man, so much bigger than I was, could very well bust through the door I was fighting to keep shut. I had come to the resolution that I would not hand her over to him no matter what. Consequently, I had that sick feeling in my stomach that he could and would hit me and that it was going to really hurt. Still, I knew that there was no way I could hand her over to him even if it put me at risk. I remember at one point as my feet continued to push against the toilet and pushing myself against the door keeping it shut, he began to try to kick the door down, the force of each kick on the other side was thrusting my head forward. Without any thought, I shouted “Shane, in Jesus’ name, go way”. It was all I could say. I don’t know at what point if it was immediately or not, but he did go away. God had delivered us, but what if I had given into the fear and handed my friend over to him to remain safe myself?
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, so many of us have gone and are going through so much. I give you my stories to encourage you to not give up! It’s hard to keep walking and looking when we can’t see a thing, a light or an end. Don’t stop peering in the dark! Keep moving forward! Keep praying! When fear of something so much bigger than what we can handle is pushing at the door, push back! Don’t hand over what is dear to you, your faith! It’s okay to doubt, it’s normal to fear, it’s human to pitch fits, but don’t give in to them. Reach up! Reach out! Cry out! Fight back with a friend! Fight back with a song! Fight back with a declaration that God is good and is in control! May people see and want what we have not because we have it all together. May people see and want what we have because we have persevered and stand on God’s goodness alone.
And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” – Luke 18:7-8